Is there a recipe for an office? How to arrange office space so that it supports employees in the performance of their tasks? What to do to reconcile two elements in one office – focus and communication? What future awaits office space? All these questions will be answered together with our customers during the Orgatec, while in the meantime we encourage you to follow our inspirational cycle.
“This is the end of mobile work” – this is what several large companies announced in 2017. The office is starting to reclaim its title as most inspiring space to work – a place for innovation and company development. Rewind one year, and at the Orgatec Expo in Cologne we presented our philosophy We Know How to #MakeYourSpace. This slogan reflects Nowy Styl Group’s 25 years of experience, first in furniture production, and then in complex arrangement of office space. We have always believed in the potential of a well-designed office that fulfils the needs of its users. Our experience, and the experience of our customers, shows that an ideal office space supports the efficiency of the entire organization, as well as ensuring the comfort of each of its users.
At this year’s edition of the Orgatec Expo, we will show how we work with our customers to successfully design of each office space, and we will reveal what we focus on when we arrange an office space. We will present five key characteristics of a modern workspace: quiet, flexible, free, social and smart. In our weekly articles, we will build up examples of our knowledge and inspiration, so that when Orgatec starts on October 23 we can say: “Let’s #MakeYourSpace together!”
We will start with office acoustics. Noise and the inability to concentrate has always been one of the reasons employees “escape” from offices. How can you ensure you create the conditions that allow concentration and attract people back to their office?
Enjoy the silence
Whether we like it or not, noise is a part of office life. However, we do not have to lose energy or let our health suffer due to noise. We just need to identify its sources and improve the acoustic comfort of office users – sometimes that only requires simple methods
“Words like violence / Break the silence” – listening to the lyrics of the song “Enjoy the Silence” by legendary Depeche Mode, we recall the buzzing open spaces of the 80s and 90s – we could say that the song was something of an anthem for the office workers seeking a place to concentrate. But do we really have to go back three decades to see office users who dream of a moment of silence?
In some offices, an experienced acoustician will know from the moment they step inside what the measuring equipment will show – excessive reverberation time, exceeded noise norms and so on. Numerous experiments and studies have confirmed that conditions like these have a negative impact on employees’ efficiency as well as their health and well-being. Our analyses show that more than 30% of people struggle with excessive noise in their office, and nearly 75% of employees would like to be able to use a separate quiet area to concentrate.
Why does noise bother us so much?
Open space noise levels average at about 60-65 decibels. In order to better understand these values, we can compare office noise with something that we all know: a vacuum cleaner. Let’s imagine that we’re trying to focus on working for several hours when a vacuum cleaner is running. Not an easy task.
The consequences of noise are also significant for the company’s results. Scientists have shown that when a person is distracted from an important task they’re performing, they are only able to concentrate again after 20 minutes. It’s also worth mentioning that when working in excessive noise, a person’s efficiency decreases by almost 70% – there are actual losses for the company.
Fortunately, there are tools that can help break this chain of damage and can significantly improve office acoustic comfort. “Acoustic tests precisely specify the scale of the problem, diagnose its causes and enable us to recommend solutions suitable for a given space”, says Anna Wilczura, acoustician at the Nowy Styl Group. “It would be ideal if this type of analysis was performed at the same time as the space was being arranged, as at that stage we can separate zones and silent rooms in the office, ensure the right arrangement of desks and introduce sound-absorbing materials. Considering the fact that there are many sources of noise, only a comprehensive and well thought out strategy will ensure the desired result”, she explains.
If the possibilities to change the office architecture are limited, it is worth using acoustic products. Our experience, and that of our customers, has shown that suspending or placing Sileo panels on the walls can change the acoustics in an office significantly. They effectively protect office users from noise, in particular from reverberation – they are sound-absorbing and sound-insulating. Formo wall felt panels fulfil a similar function. With their compact design, they are quick and easy to install and can suppress the reverberation in conference rooms, employee rooms, canteens and managerial offices. Both panel lines are available in numerous colours, which means there are many possibilities to arrange them, for example, to match the office décor. As a result, the interior becomes cosier, almost homely, but best of all, quieter.
In some offices, the separation of meeting rooms or rooms for working in silence is problematic. The Tepee module system can be a solution for such places: its tall walls made of pressed felt allow for the separation of meeting places or places for individual work from open spaces. A high wall surrounds sofas or desks and hides us from office life – we do not bother other people, and they do not bother us. We separate ourselves from acoustic and visual stimuli. This really makes it easier to focus on our tasks.
Coming back to the song by Depeche Mode, in the chorus we hear the following lyrics: “Words are very unnecessary / They can only do harm”. Whether we like it or not, word are necessary to communicate well in an office. It’s important to create a working environment that will support the needs of all employees. The division of an office into zones, a large variety of meeting places and areas to focus on work all makes working in the office better. “Enjoy the Silence” – this song, sung with a smile on the way to a comfortable office, has a completely different meaning.
So… Let’s #MakeYourSpace Quiet
We encourage you to read the next article on Monday (24.09), in which we will talk about dividing an office into zones, creating the right conditions for performing various tasks (Let’s #MakeYourSpace Flexible).